SC: Order to freeze ex-President Yameen's bank accounts was wrong

Former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is escorted back to Maafushi Prison following his hearing at the High Court on July 8, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Supreme Court of Maldives has ruled that a court order to freeze the bank accounts of former President Abdulla Yameen was issued incorrectly.  

The Criminal Court issued an order to freeze the accounts of former President Abdulla Yameen last year. The Criminal Court ordered so after stating that Yameen’s accounts had money connected to the massive MMPRC scandal.

The order read that if the accounts were not frozen, the former President could gain benefits and the state would be inflicted with losses. 

The High Court overruled the order once it was appealed. The state then appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court today, maintained the verdict of the High Court in the case.

Yameen’s lawyers argued that there was no monitoring order in place when the state requested for the order to freeze Yameen’s accounts, as per the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code. 

However, the state argued that there were exceptions to the requirements, which were taken up by the state when requesting the order. 

The High Court ruled that the circumstances surrounding the case did not qualify as an exceptional situation. 

The Supreme Court, in its ruling, stated that the order should have been requested under the anti-money laundering laws of the nation. Under the law, only funds that the state can obtain should be frozen. It was not necessary to show whether the state can in fact obtain the funds during the procedure but can be fulfilled by showing certain reasons as to why the money can be obtained by the state to the presiding judge or justice. 

The top court also specified how an order to freeze a certain account should be made and what requirements should be there in such an order and what is to happen in situations where there is an excess of funds in the account requested to be frozen. 

The verdict also noted that the police investigation into Yameen was regarding the transfer of funds from Yameen’s BML account into an Escrow account formed by Yameen with the ACC. The Supreme Court noted that instead of requesting to freeze the Escrow accounts eight other accounts were frozen with no reasoning as to how the funds in those eight accounts were connected with the money in the Escrow account.

The top court said that the police had been unable to explain thise at the High Court or even the Supreme Court. The polic were also unable to clearly state whether the accounts contained funds embezzled from the MMPRC scandal. 

Justice Husnu Al Suood, who read the verdict stated that the court order to freeze the account of former President Abdulla Yameen was incorrect. Justices Aisha Shujoon and Azmiralda Zahir also agreed with the reasoning.